The Psychology of Human Possibility and Constraint

By Jack Martin & Jeff Sugarman

Subjects: Educational Psychology
Series: SUNY series, Alternatives in Psychology
Paperback : 9780791441244, 160 pages, April 1999
Hardcover : 9780791441237, 160 pages, April 1999

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Table of contents




1. The Challenge: Overcoming the Problems of Dualism without Sacrificing the Psychological Our Thesis

Social Constructionism and Cognitive Constructivism in Psychology

Atomism Versus Holism

2. Selves and Societies: The Metaphysics of Dynamic Interactionism and the Emergence of the Psychological

The Dynamics of the Developmental Context

The Emergence of the Psychological Self

Selves and Societies

The Underdetermination Thesis

The Shifting Ontology of the Psychological

3. Scientism, Relativism, and Neorealistic Hermeneutics: An Epistemology for Psychology

The Subject Matter of Psychology and the Challenges It Poses

Avoiding Scientism and Relativism

A Neorealist Hermeneutics

Our Thesis in Summary

4. Applying a Psychology of Possibility and Constraint: Psychotherapy

Social Constructionist and Cognitive Constructivist Perspectives on Psychotherapy

An Integrative Proposal

Empirical Demonstration

5. Applying a Psychology of Possibility and Constraint: Education

Sociocultural Versus Constructivist Accounts of Educational Development

Bridging Sociocultural and Constructivist Accounts of Educational Development

Creativity and Innovation

6. Human Possibility and Constraint

The Individual and the Social

Gadamer's Perspectivism and the Ethics of Dialogical Understanding

A Psychology of Possibility and Constraint in Modern Times

Concluding Comment


Subject Index

Name Index

Resolves the fundamental debate between cognitivists and social constructionists concerning the metaphysics of human psychology, and offers new insights into therapy, education, and creativity.


This book addresses one of the most enduring debates within psychology, namely, the conflicting claims of those who adopt an individual, cognitivist perspective and those who adopt a social, culturalist perspective. The authors examine this debate and provide fresh insights that permit the bridging of traditional dualisms between self and society with respect to the subject matter of psychology, and between scientism and relativism with respect to knowledge about this subject matter.

At Simon Fraser University, Jack Martin is Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Professor of Education and Jeff Sugarman is a Learning and Study Specialist.


"…a work of great erudition … The authors are excellent guides with impeccable taste." — Theory & Psychology

"This book provides a strong, coherent philosophy of science for psychology that builds upon and is consistent with the American pragmatic, functional tradition and the continental phenomenological, hermeneutic tradition. It provides a 'middle way' between an objectivist, positivist approach and a subjectivist, postmodernist approach while being sympathetic to arguments of each. The book is full of important insights. It bridges the gap between European hermeneutics and more familiar American pragmatism and offers new insights into therapy, education, and creativity." — David F. Barone, Nova Southeastern University

"It is more difficult to explain and defend an integrated, middle-ground position than it is to myopically argue for a simplistic, extreme position. Martin and Sugarman accomplish this more difficult task beautifully." — George Howard, University of Notre Dame